VIDEO| Virtual Vacation: Yamagata, Japan

Photos by Takahiro Takiguchi
Photos by Takahiro Takiguchi

VIDEO| Virtual Vacation: Yamagata, Japan

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Okinawa

Whether you’re working from home, sheltering in place or just staying home, if you’re like us, you’re probably dreaming of open skies, sandy beaches, tall mountains, or perfect powdery slopes. Our travel plans may be on hold, but that doesn’t mean we can’t dream up where we’ll go next.

Welcome to virtual vacation video series where we can explore destinations from the comfort of our homes.

Join us as we take a short virtual journey to Yamagata.

The great thing about this destination is that it is easily accessible from Tokyo via Shinkansen bullet train that runs at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour, in less than 3 hours.

Located on the central-northern part of Honshu Island, Yamagata offers plenty of natural and cultural attractions with famous local delicacies, such as wagyu beef, rice, fruits and soba noodles. Yamagata is also home to an enormous number of onsen hot springs.

Some of the must-see spots in Yamagata include:

Yamagata’s city center – Yamagatajo, built in 1357, is one of the most majestic castles and is ranked in the top 100 of Japan. The restored wooden Ninomaru gate, built in typical feudal style, is an example of a prosperous era and its glorious history. Bunshokan, former prefectural office built in 1916 is a red-brick corridor structure and another great attraction for its elegant British Reconstruction-style look and classic atmosphere. 

 

    Risshakuji Temple (Yamadera) — Built over a 1,000 years ago, Risshakuji or Yamadera is a large scenic temple located on a cliffy mountain outside Yamagata City. A legend says that if we make a wish and hike the 1,000 stairs leading to the temple with surrounding sculptures and monuments along the way, our wish will come true when we reach the top. The panoramic view of the valley and rice fields and traditional farmhouses from Godaido observation hall is simply breathtaking.

    Sakata City — About a two-hour drive from the center of the city, you’ll find the port town of Sakata. This quiet, subdued town was where the 2008 Oscar Award-winning Okuribito was filmed. Sankyo Soko storehouse, which was in the movie, was built in 1893 to store bags of rice transported by boat in the Mogami River. While nine of the 12 storehouses are still being used, others are now museums, souvenir shops or restaurants. The hill of Hieda Shrine offers another good strolling with impressive views over the port.

      While you're there, don't forget to sample tasty local soba noodles. The chewy, dark and delicious noodles will have you hooked. If you are a sake fan, be sure to check out popular local brands Dewazakura, Jokigen and Hatsumago. Blessed with clear water, tasty rice and traditional brewing expertise, these sake brands are definitely top notch.

      I hope you enjoyed a look at Yamagata through my travel photos and that it's inspired your next trip. Stay safe and get ready to travel with us in our next video. Thanks for watching!

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